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Hard way win

Panther boys top Pinedale in Overtime

Powell’s game on Saturday with Pinedale was barely 20 minutes old when head coach Travis Rapp made an observation.

“I turned to my assistant coach and said we needed to work on finishing this week in practice,” Rapp recalled.

The Powell Panthers dominated time of possession on Saturday, but needed to play an extra 20 minutes of soccer before securing a 3-2 victory over fifth-ranked Pinedale in Class 3A boys’ soccer action. The win came less than 24 hours after the Panthers had been humbled 9-0 by Buffalo in their home opener.

“I’ve learned my last three years that we like to do things the tough way here in Powell,” Rapp said following the victory. “And, to be honest, I think it was good for them because they had to walk into an overtime and learn what they had to do to win and to place themselves under that pressure. It was a good learning experience and good to have to grow and mature because of it, so maybe down the road if we have to go to overtime we’ll benefit from this experience.”

By all rights, however, the Panthers should never have been in a position to need the extra time. Powell dominated the possession game and relentlessly peppered the Pinedale goal with shot opportunities. Despite the repeated effort, the Panthers couldn’t crack the scoring column.

“If you looked at time of possession, if I had to put a number to it, I bet we probably had possession of the ball 75 or 80 of the 100 minutes we played,” Rapp said. “Defensively, we drew Pinedale offsides about a dozen times. It was a very frustrating game to know we need to work on finishing. The closeness of the score did not reflect the game that was played.”

The Panthers’ only regulation goal came midway through the second half as Blake Schwan drilled the ball into the net. With the score tied at 1-1 at the end of regulation though, the Panthers were forced back onto the pitch for a pair of extra 10-minute periods.

Schwan struck again in the first of those periods, scoring what would prove to be the game-winning strike off a feed from Tyler Oullette. Oullette added some insurance to the Panthers’ goal total in the second half of overtime, driving an assist from Noah Katz into the back of the net, elevating the Panthers to a 3-1 lead.

Pinedale was awarded a penalty kick with fewer than five minutes remaining in the contest and converted the shot to return the score margin to a single goal and re-inject a measure of drama into the game.

“It was nice for the boys to see that we didn’t’ really have a quick fix for things in overtime,” said Rapp. “We just did what we’d been doing and converted some of the opportunities. They got to see that they needed to keep doing what we were doing and in the end we got success out of it. If we do a better job of choosing and placing our shots, instead of a 3-2 game this could easily have been a 12-2 game.”

That was not the case one day earlier, as the Panthers were upstaged in their home opener by the Bison of Buffalo. Powell fell by a 9-0 final count.

“That game got away from us early,” said Rapp, who watched as the Panthers surrendered a pair of corner kick goals in the first six minutes of the contest. “We spotted them two goals early and we never really recovered. We put our heads down and tried playing one on one and we can’t do that. We have to stay at 11 of 11 at all times.”

The Bison, playing with a strong northerly wind at their backs, dropped five goals into net before the first half ended. Playing into the wind, the team nearly matched that total by adding four more goals.

“We didn’t give ourselves many opportunities,” Rapp said.

The Panther boys, now 2-3 this season, will have an opportunity to play their first quadrant game of the season when they travel to Worland today (Tuesday) for a 5 p.m. contest against the Warriors. Powell has had its struggles in recent years playing its southern Big Horn Basin nemesis.

“I’m glad to be playing them early this year,” said Rapp. “I’m glad we’re getting it in. Worland is always a tough game for us, but if we play against them like we did against Pinedale and focus on possessing the ball and putting our emphasis on that field, I think we can win. We just have to do what we want to do and not fall into trying to play Worland’s style of ball.”

That contest will be the Panthers’ last until April 4, when the team returns to action at Cody in another Northwest quadrant contest.

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